- Birthday, Books, Quotes, Reading, Writing

William Butler Yeats on Life, Love, Poetry, Politics, and More.


Happy birthday, William Butler Yeats! Here are some quotes from his writing:


“Words alone are certain good.”


“Only the greatest obstacle that can be contemplated without despair rouses the will to full intensity.”


“We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, but of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry.”


“I have desired, like every artist, to create a little world out of the beautiful, pleasant, and significant things of this marred and clumsy world […] I have therefore written down accurately and candidly much that I have heard and seen, and, except by way of commentary, nothing that I have merely imagined.”


“Let us go forth, the tellers of tales, and seize whatever prey the heart long for, and have no fear. Everything exists, everything is true, and the earth is only a little dust under our feet.”


“Seek out reality, leave things that seem.”


“I think all happiness depends on the energy to assume the mask of some other life, on a re-birth as something not one’s self, something created in a moment and perpetually renewed…”


“I must lie down where all the ladders start,
in the foul rag and bone shop of the heart.”


“The only business of the head in the world is to bow a ceaseless obeisance to the heart.”


“We can make our minds so like still water that beings gather about us that they may see, it may be, their own images, and so live for a moment with a clearer, perhaps even with a fiercer life because of our quiet.”


“Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.”


“In dreams begins responsibility.”


“All changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.”


“We begin to live when we have conceived life as tragedy.”


“Because the life man sees is not the final end of things, the moment we attain to greatness of any kind by personal labour and will we become fragmentary, and find no task in active life which can use our finest faculties.”


“Politics, for a vision-seeking man, can be but half achievement, a choice of an almost easy kind of skill instead of that kind which is, of all those not impossible, the most difficult.”


“A powerful class by terror, rhetoric, and organised sentimentality, may drive their people to war but the day draws near when they cannot keep them there.”


“As I look backward upon my own writing, I take pleasure alone in those verses where it seems to me I have found something hard and cold, some articulation of the Image, which is the opposite of all that I am in my daily life, and all that my country is; yet man or nation can no more make this Mask or Image than the seed can be made by the soil into which it is cast.”


“The newspaper is the roar of the machine.”


“Does not all art come when a nature, that never ceases to judge itself, exhausts personal emotion so completely that something impersonal, something that has nothing to do with action or desire, suddenly starts into its place, something which is as unforeseen, as completely organised, even as unique, as the images that pass before the mind between sleeping and waking?”


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